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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A week after a major police operation in the central region of São Paulo, known as Cracolândia (Crackland), drug users are said to be slowly returning to area, strengthening the voices of critics who said that the operation, which counted on over 900 police officers, would not resolve the problem.

Brazil, São Paulo,São Paulo's Cracolandia region after police operations took away hundreds of homeless and drug-dependent people living in the area,
São Paulo’s Cracolândia region after police operations took away hundreds of homeless and drug-dependent people living in the area, photo by Eduardo Ogata/Secom.

“The action did not solve the basic problem of Cracolândia, which is [drug] dependency. Until this is resolved, the issue will not be resolved, the drug will continue to arrive, both there and everywhere in Brazil,” São Paulo prosecutor, of Arthur Pinto Filho, told a government news agency last week.

Pinto Filho added that during the days after the operation ‘users only changed places’ with only few taking the city’s offer to go to rehabilitation clinics.

The Sunday, May 21st, operation dubbed Projeto Redenção (Redemption Project), was part of São Paulo Mayor João Doria’s attempt to revitalize one of the historic regions of São Paulo, today degraded by violence and drug trafficking.

“[The operation] was done very efficiently, without victims, without violence. In the medical and urban areas, actions begin now – the hospitalizations of those who are drug-dependent, the care of the homeless population which is not drug-dependent and the redevelopment of the area,” Doria said of the action last week.

For National Human Rights Commission president Darci Frigo, however, the operation resulted in a violation of human rights. “In addition to being a violent, disproportionate and unnecessary police intervention, it occurred without any planning with the social and health care teams that could ensure that people on drugs and the street population had minimum guarantees of their rights preserved,” said Frigo to local media.

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